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Craig's Story

MISSION UNITED Provides a Parachute to Military Veteran
July 28, 2021

An Airborne special forces combat Veteran with over 1,000 jumps to his credit, Craig went from flying high to living near the bottom.

He lost his employment when the truck driving business he worked for abruptly shut down, and he soon found himself homeless.

A single dad to Joseph, 28, and Janaé, 22, both college graduates, Craig was rehoused through a VA program but needed help with utility bills, employment and medical services. That’s when he called United Way’s MISSION UNITED Helpline.

Out of concern for vulnerable military families, United Way created MISSION UNITED, a military information and referral program. The program helps military and veteran families navigate the robust, but complex, array of community and military support programs.

"[My Military Navigator] listened to the things I was going through. She gave me hope."

Describing his conversation with MISSION UNITED as “surreal,” Craig reached out by calling 2-1-1, a 24/7/365 stigma-free and confidential phone service dedicated to connecting people with community, health, and disaster services.

Callers are connected to the best military or Veteran resources and benefit information based on branch of service, status of service, including Veterans and active duty; and by category, such as housing, utilities, behavioral health, education and employment, financial assistance and more.

"My referral to the Bexar County Military and Veteran Service Center, who was hosting a one-day event, helped me obtain so many services. It was a godsend. My whole life changed for the better."

Like it did when he met his wife (now ex-wife.) Craig plays guitar, keyboards and cello. His wife was a professional drummer. Both were sitting in one night with a Chicago area band.

"I was just happy to have a gig. Who knew I’d end up meeting my wife that night? She is an important woman in my life. Even though we’re no longer married, we are still best friends. She is one great mother and a positive woman. I would never let her fall. She made me a better man."

Living a life of humility and service, Craig was her rock when she battled cancer, twice.

"I took time off to help her. I let my place go to live in my truck just to keep a smile on her face. I wouldn’t stop until I knew she was on her feet and healthy."

While living in Atlanta, he also helped the homeless while working as a paramedic.

"I remember taking homeless people to the hospital for various illnesses. I was glad they would be warm, off the streets and receive meals. It’s the only “power” I had to help. I will help anyone. I want to be there. I don’t want credit or attaboys. It’s just the right thing to do."

Recently, in his own life, this kind-hearted man with a chemical engineering degree found himself on the other side.

"I never had to depend on anyone. But my circumstances changed, and I encountered a lot of roadblocks. One day I made a call for help."

Thanks to MISSION UNITED, the future for the former Army jumper is looking up. He will soon be a grandfather for the first time. He hopes to jump again, work as a paramedic again; but most of all, he wants to continue giving back and helping others.

"I just try to be a good person."

Mission accomplished.

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